Ironwood Maine Web Update

I admire people who choose to shine even after all the storms they have been through.”


            An important part of our program here at Ironwood is DBT.  DBT is a really great skill to have and be able to practice.  It is commonly confused with CBT, and even though they are very similar, they are  different. CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT is a psycho-social intervention that is practiced to help improve mental health. CBT concentrates on helping treat mental distortions, regulating emotions, and developing healthy coping skills.  DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is also a psychotherapy that helps people with different kinds of mental health issues, as well. It helps people accept who they are, learn to feel comfortable and safe, and teaches them the skills to emotionally regulate. Both of these practices are commonly taught in small groups, which is usually preferred by the person teaching. At Ironwood we all get to learn and practice DBT. In those groups we learn various types of helpful skills to help regulate our emotions, become more aware, and use radical acceptance. At Ironwood we are encouraged to use these specific skills; radical acceptance, being aware, staying in the moment, practicing mindfulness, and square breathing. Personally, the ones that work the best for me are practicing mindfulness and finding healthy coping skills.

            During Tuesday’s DBT group we first did our individual check in and then we participated in an activity where we had to first write a list of what we thought was beautiful. It could be something as detailed as “I think the smell of my grandparents’ house is a beautifully comforting smell” or as simple as “I think the ocean is beautiful.” We could write as many as one hundred or as little as six; I wrote twenty five. I interpreted the question on a somewhat deeper level. My list consisted of things like “I think my family, friends, animals, home, my life, compassion, empathy, love, passion, trust, loyalty, humor, and education are beautiful.” Ironwood has really helped me gain a lot of gratitude for all I do have in life and so did this activity. Next, we shared what we wanted to share from our lists and then we had to draw a heart on a separate piece of paper. 

            After that, we were told to think of one person you struggle with and then write one thing from your list you could give them. I wrote that I could give the person I struggle with empathy. I chose that because with empathy you put yourself in another person’s shoes and doing this would really help me to be able to gain more sympathy for the person instead of getting really annoyed. After this activity we discussed intention versus impact, and we shared recent situations where we had different intentions than what was perceived. When we finished sharing all of our stories, we were asked if we could go back and change our intention or just the way we worded it, would we go back and change it ? A lot of people said they wouldn’t change their intentions, because things happened the way it did for a reason. However, a lot of people said they would have changed the way they worded it to be more clear and direct. After every DBT group, I learn something different. What  I am taking out of this time is to stop and take a minute to admire and absorb the world around you. This time will help you realize what you’re grateful for, give you time to think about a clear way to communicate, and help you see how special life is. DBT is a great skill to have and I think everyone should practice it.